Plant of the Week – Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasque flower)
Eye Candy Credentials - This is one of those plants that once seen is never forgotten. The lovely ferny foliage is attractive in itself, but the flowers, which are out now are of a jewel like intensity which is in complete contrast to most of the delicate pastel colours often associated with spring. And, if that weren’t enough, the stems are covered with silver hairs which glisten in the sun. Once the flowers are finished the seeds heads are also covered in long silver whiskers which look a little like Old Man’s Beard with an ‘up-do’.
How to Grow - Pulsatilla need to be planted in fertile extremely well drained soil in full sun. They are basically alpine so think rocky mountain slopes. If necessary add lots of grit to help with drainage as they hate sitting in the wet. Cold is not a problem. When you plant make sure that you are sure of their position. If you disturb their roots or try and move them they will probably die. I have them at the front of a very sunny, gritty bed and mark their positions with little sticks so that I remember where they are during the winter and don’t accidentally dig them up.
Looks Good With - Euphorbia polychroma, Iris Reticulata, Erysimum ‘Moonlight’, Cerastium tomentosum.
Technical Stuff - Pulsatilla vulgaris comes from the mountains of Western France to the Ukraine. It is a clump forming perennial which will grow about 20 cm high and spread about 20 cm. It flowers from April to May and the seed heads persist well through the summer. It dies back in winter. Do not eat it as it will cause stomach upsets and the sap may cause skin irritation. There are various varieties including white and (almost) black flowering types which are worth hunting out.